Plant of the Month: Spring Plants in City of Raleigh Parks

All of these plants can be found at Anderson Point Community Park!

Last Modified: February 22, 2013

Each season the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Land Stewardship Coordinator shares six plants that you may see in Raleigh Parks during the course of the season. The information below provides a brief description of each plant including what park you may see it in, a photo of the plant, and a link for further detail. All of the plants found on this page are species native to the area.

Atamasco Lily (Zephranthes atamasco)

Atamasco Lily

This lovely member of the lily family can be found in moist, rich woodlands throughout the southeastern U.S. It is a native perennial that forms from a bulb. The Atamasco Lily has flat, grass-like basal leaves up to 16 inches long and a quarter inch wide. In the spring, solitary fragrant flowers will appear at the end of a hollow stem called a scape. Its blossoms changes from pure white to pink as the blossoms age. The plant goes dormant in the summer like many other spring ephemerals.

Learn more about Atamasco Lily.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)


The evergreen high climbing Crossvine is a favorite of hummingbirds, and when in bloom is one of the most beautiful flowers in the forest. The stunning trumpet-shaped flowers appear in late spring, at about the time ruby-throated hummingbirds are returning to North Carolina from their wintering grounds in Mexico or Central America. The flowers appear in clusters and are often yellow on the inside and red on the outside. The Crossvine’s opposite compound leaves are unique and make the vine easy to identify even when the vine is not flowering. The vine has two leaflets that are 3-5 inches long and a modified third leaflet that appears as a corkscrew-like tendril that helps the vine climb so high.

Learn more about Crossvine.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Mountain Laurel

The Mountain Laurel is a large shrub or small tree with twisted, gnarled trunks and irregular branching. It is common in the mountains of North Carolina, but occurs only occasionally on north-facing slopes in the Piedmont. At Anderson Point, it occurs along the banks of Crabtree Creek and the Neuse River. The Mountain Laurel puts on an incredible display in the spring, with showy flower clusters of pure white to pale pink to brighter pink, with variable markings of red. The leathery evergreen leaves are clustered toward the shoot tip and are 2-5 inches long. With evergreen leaves, beautiful bark, an interesting form, and a gorgeous spring floral display, this tree is interesting throughout all seasons.

Learn more about Mountain Laurel.

Galax (Galax urceolata)


Galax is an evergreen perennial wildflower common in the North Carolina mountains but rare in the Piedmont. It can be identified year round by its dark green glossy leaves that are round to heart shaped with small rounded teeth. The leaves are tough and leathery and sometimes turn a reddish brown in winter. In late spring, Galax blooms appear in a single spike of dainty white flowers on a leafless stalk Galax is particular about its environment, and requires rich, well-drained woodland soils. The leaves are sometimes used in winter decoration and this plant can be threatened by over-harvesting.

Learn more about Galax.

Green dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

Green dragon

This unique and uncommon spring ephemeral occurs in floodplains and bottomlands. It blooms in April and goes dormant in the summer. The Green Dragon is related to the more common Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) and occurs in similar habitats. Its flower is a shrouded spike with a long orange-yellow tail – resembling a long protruding dragon’s tongue. The plant grows from a corm and is usually 1-3 feet tall. The Green Dragon produces a single leaf composed of 7 to 15 lance-shaped leaflets held out horizontally over the plant. After flowering, berries are produced in a club shaped column and turn orange-red in late summer, resembling a mini corncob.

Learn more about Green dragon.

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)


Partridgeberry is a small evergreen groundcover that occurs throughout North Carolina and is especially common in the mountains. It does occur in the Piedmont and can be found at Anderson Point along Crabtree Creek. It grows best in low moist woods and along stream banks. Partridgeberry grows as trailing stems along the ground and is about 2 inches tall. It flowers in late spring and has white to pale pink hairy petals. The distinctive four-parted flowers grow in pairs. After fertilization, the two flower ovaries fuse, and each pair of flowers produces a single bright red berry which can be seen in the fall and winter.

Learn more about Partridgeberry.

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